Sports cars, SUVs, family sedans, pick-up trucks, convertibles, and roadsters . . . regardless of your interest, one of the best ways to buy the vehicle of your choice is at a car auction. There are auctions that specialize in particular market segments, those that cater to dealers, others that are open to the general car-buying public, classic car auctions, muscle car auctions. Some auctions specialize in repossessed or seized vehicles and then there are government auctions, police auctions and some that even feature new cars brought there by dealers trying to generate some cash before the first-of-the-month bills are due. There are also auto auctions at which you’ll find lease-turn-backs or manufacturers’ “brass hat” executive cars and dealer demonstrators. A simple internet search in nearly every market will disclose vehicle auctions nearby.
To purchase a vehicle at an auction may require a dealer license, so for the individual buyer, the public auto auction will probably be the best idea . An option is to seek the assistance of a car dealer. Many small car dealers are willing to take a retail buyer to auction for a fee that will cover their time spent and a little profit. The dealer-only auctions will feature the best prices and probably a greater selection of vehicles, whereas open-to-the-public auctions are more buyer-friendly for the individual.
A potential buyer should also arm themselves with data on the makes and models of cars in which they are interested; wholesale and retail prices from Kelly Blue Book or the NADA book online, loan values, price add-ons for accessories, data on recalls or service bulletins from the manufacturer and auction prices for the recent events. In addition there is a weekly auction report on the types of vehicles and their selling prices. This data will provide invaluable information on the “real” price of vehicles, i.e. what is actually being paid for them, not some arbitrary price in a Blue Book or NADA book published monthly. Almost any information needed is available to the knowledgeable internet searcher. If you can’t find it there, ask a small used car dealer, the one you’d ask to take you to the dealer auction.
The type of payment accepted at auctions is usually; cash deposits, bank drafts and certified or bank checks. It is possible to leave a deposit and then finalize the payment after a visit to your bank for a draft or bank check. At some auctions, it may be possible to use a bank debit card.
Be prepared to evaluate any prospective purchase without a test drive. If you don’t have the personal experience to judge the condition of the vehicle by checking the appearance and other obvious wear areas like tires, carpets and seats and an under-the-hood scan, take along an experienced technician or used car dealer, someone who does this for a living on a daily basis.